Three e-mails and a phone
call to Budget Marine in Sint Maarten had produced no discernible result, thus we sailed 400 miles north from Grenada
to visit them on site. Two more phone
calls, four store visits, a total of ten days effort and the store manager, Eric Knight finally stated to me that Budget Marine have no technical support and their customer responsibility is strictly limited to passing through to the customer, any warranty support provided by the product manufacturer. Since the UK supplier of ApolloFLEX solar panels
could not be contacted, there was / is effectively no warranty on the product. He did however offer me a generous discount if I buy new replacement panels from their store.
I contacted the “non-contactable” UK supplier myself and they confirmed that they “used to” sell ApolloFLEX panels but the company had ceased operating. The gentleman I talked with thought they might have been bought out by Solarworld in the USA. This produced an address in Florida
but no working website. The name “Euro-Line” kept coming up but an internet
search just provides a trail of broken links to non-working or non-existing web-sites. The sales brochure for Apolloflex panels bragged that they were manufactured in the UK, an obviously false claim. The on-line pictures of Euro-Line’s German manufacturing plant look more like a downtown real estate office. An article on Australian news indicated a solar
supplier with an almost identical name and product, was fined for claiming to have been made in Australia
and was actually a front for a Chinese supplier.
This has been an expensive education for me but now I have been burned to the tune of $3,200 plus installation
costs, I still need working solar panels. Are the heavy fixed panels, weighing as much as ten times the weight of the semi-flexible panels, the only reliable way to go? Is there a viable manufacturer out there somewhere, that might provide a product that would survive a marine environment
for a couple of years?